REGINA – “It’s been a long time coming. It’s been several years working towards this and I’m really excited.” said Laura Budd.
Budd has been waiting almost two years to receive her new birth certificate and health card. With them, she is now legally a woman.
Driving from her home near Melville in rural Saskatchewan, Budd dropped by the E-Health Saskatchewan offices in person on March 1st to pick up her amended documents showing her true identity.
Budd filed a formal human rights complaint against the province back in 2014, challenging the gender reassignment surgery requirement after her application to change her birth certificate was denied. In February of this year, a Court of Queen’s Bench judge ruled the current legislation violates human rights. A consent order was presented by the court saying evidence of the procedure is no longer needed for adults.
“Imagine going through life where every time you pulled out identification, it doesn’t match your presentation and your true identity,” said Budd. “It erases your existence. You feel less than human. So I filed the complaint for myself and for my community and for others that did not have the support that I have, or did not have the patience or emotional fortitude to go through this lengthy process.”
Justice Minister Gordon Wyant detailed the amendments in a letter sent Miki Mappin who is an advocate for the Transgender community.
“I’ve committed, of course, that we will formally amend the legislation to remove the requirement essentially now based on the order from the court” Wyant said.
“It’s a major surgery and there’s people for health reasons who are forbidden by their doctors.” Mappin stated. “The other thing is, of course, not everyone wants to have these surgeries. In the modern day we’ve begun to realize our genders are not really our genitals, our genders are who we are in our mind and spirit.”
E-Health Saskatchewan updated its website on March 1st to reflect the revised birth registration criteria. All residents can now apply for a new birth certificate, driver’s license, and provincial health card all at the same. The consent order is an interim method. The government plans on holding more consultations on the Vital Statistics Act legislation once the provincial election is over in April.
“We want make sure that we do the proper consultations so that the requirements that will be in the vital statistics act are acceptable to those that it affects,” said Wyant.
Mappin has experienced the repercussions firsthand and says without proper ID, Transgender men and women still face discrimination in today’s society.
“Transgender people will go for a job interview and everything’s wonderful and the manager’s like ‘oh ya! This is the person we need for the job.’ And so then they put them on the short list, then someone starts looking at all the documentation and they go ‘woah! This is a woman but their driver’s license has an “M” on it.’ So in a lot of cases, they sort of say ‘ooh that’s too much trouble for us. Let’s hire that other person,'” Mappin explained.
Saskatchewan has progressed over the past few years with the inclusion of gender identity under the human rights code back in 2014. But, Wyant and advocates agree more can be done.
“It’s one thing to change legislation, it’s another thing to change attitudes, and I think that there needs to be some on-going education in terms of issues that affects Transgender communities and other communities affected by human rights.” Wyant added.
Budd was the first person in Saskatchewan to receive her new certificate under the re-written guidelines. While it has been a struggle, it’s just a small part of Budd’s journey coming to terms with her identity and life with her family over the past 2 decades.
“This is me and it’s always been me.” Budd said.
And with one major obstacle out of the way, the future continues to be bright for Budd as she celebrates a new beginning.
“It’s just a relief to finally now be seen as a human being in society. I am just the same as everyone else again, and it’s feels good.” Budd said. “It really is my birthday all over again. My life starts now.”